South Side TIF District, formed away from public view, OK'd by council

The Chicago City Council on July 20 approved a new tax-increment financing (TIF) district on the South Side, slated to dish out at least $80 million in public subsidy to developers, financiers, and other private entities—but, despite government pledges of TIF transparency, members of the public were not consulted in the district's creation.

LeClaire Courts
Drawing of proposed LeClaire Courts Redevelopment,
looking northwest. Source: city of Chicago.

The Cicero/Stevenson TIF District is a roughly triangular set of parcels with the Stevenson expressway as its north border, Cicero Ave. as the east border, and 45th St. as the south border. On the district's west end, at the narrowest tip of the triangle, is LeClaire-Hearst Park.

In the middle will sit an expansion of a charter school, Academy for Global Citizenship.

The TIF district will potentially divert tens of millions of dollars in local property taxes away from schools, parks, and county services and pay them to private entities.

Inside the district, the development team of Cabrera Capital Partners and The Habitat Company will build the LeClaire Courts Redevelopment—a residential/commercial complex that'll include up to 725 rental units, on property owned by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA).

About a quarter of the residential units are intended for former residents of the original LeClaire Courts, a public housing site operated by the CHA that the agency razed in 2011.

Origin of the TIF district

The first inkling the public got that someone had decided to create the Cicero/Stevenson TIF District came on Dec. 12, 2021, via a notice buried in the back pages of the Chicago Tribune.

After that reveal, questions arose about who conceived the TIF district.

When asked what entity, company, or agency originally proposed the TIF district, a CHA spokesman said via e-mail, "It's our understanding that the City initiated the process based on the overall plans for the site."

Responding to the same question, a spokesman for the city's Dept. of Planning and Development said, "I believe it's Cabrera Capital and CHA."

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